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General News You Want to Talk About

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161default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:19 pm

Poppy

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The Republican tax bill passed the Senate Budget committee yesterday and sadly, media are reporting the chances of the Republican tax bill are increasing. 

Please call your Senators every day this week, especially if they are Republican, and tell them to vote NO on the Republican tax bill!

To find out how to contact your Senators, please go here:    https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm


In particular, if you live in these states, please call your Senators every day this week:


John McCain (AZ)  (202) 224-2235
Jeff Flake (Arizona) (202-224-4521 
Susan Collins (Maine)  (202) 224-2523 
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323


Remember what is at stake:  low- and middle income persons and families will pay higher taxes while the very wealthy and corporations will get permanent tax cuts, AND domestic programs designed to help low- and middle-income folks like Medicare, Medicaid and the federal student loan program and more will be cut if the Republican tax bills are passed!  In addition, the partial REPEAL OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT will result in 13 million to become uninsured and will RAISE health care premiums, with those with pre-existing conditions especially facing higher costs!


_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

162default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:23 am

Poppy

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So the Republicans are blasting their tax bill at an unbelievable rate of speed, all in the hope of a political victory (despite the fact that their tax bill will hurt many of their constituents). 

Republicans will be voting on this bill TODAY ON FRIDAY, so it is absolutely critical that you make your voices heard and call your Senators in the morning (they are scheduled to vote Friday at 11 am EST). 

The Republicans in the Senate hit a roadblock today when the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation reported that the Republican tax bill will NOT do what Trump and the Republicans have been claiming it will do.  In other words, the Joint Committee on Taxation's analysis is that the Republican tax bill will not achieve the Republicans' trickle-down theory.  The trickle-down theory that the Republicans have been clinging to as the justification for their tax cuts for the very wealthy and for corporations, alleges that their wealth will "trickle down" to the middle-class and low-income folks. 

However, today, the Joint Committee on Taxation blew that theory out of the water, corroborating what many economic experts have been stating for weeks:  That this Republican tax bill will help only the very wealthy and corporations, and will not benefit the middle-class and the low-income folks.  In fact most experts assert that this Republican tax bill will hurt low-income and middle-income folks because many temporary benefits will expire and many deductions that now benefit non-wealthy folks (deductions for teachers, students, persons with high medical expenses, persons who live in states with high local and state taxes) will be terminated and taken away.


The Washington Post wrote:
Senate GOP tax plan hits deficit snag, leaving leaders scrambling

November 30, 2017

. . . the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper, reported that the tax bill would not generate nearly as much economic growth over the next 10 years as Republicans had expected. As a result, the nation’s deficit would be $1 trillion higher.

[. . . ]

Lawmakers plan to resume efforts to pass the bill Friday morning, . .  .


Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, said that the late-breaking analysis of the bill’s economic effects — which Republicans have been touting for months — illustrates a mistaken approach.

“This isn’t tax reform at all,” Wyden said. “This is now just a grab bag full of goodies for multinationals and donors and special interests.”

[. . .]

Many Republicans believe the economic growth that will be unleashed by the tax cuts will be worth it, potentially creating such an economic boom that new revenue will come in from job creation and corporate investment. But these forecasts are often controversial because it is difficult to predict how tax cuts will affect behavior and how quickly the economy will respond.

[. . . ]

Of the 52 Republican senators, there were a handful whose stances remained uncertain or undeclared as of early afternoon Thursday, most prominently Corker, Flake, Johnson and Susan Collins (Maine).

[. . . ]

Overall, the legislation represents a massive change for the tax code that delivers huge cuts for corporate America and the wealthy, while the benefits for individuals are mixed or in some cases nonexistent, according to multiple nonpartisan analyses.

[. . . ]

Importantly, the bill would also repeal a central element of the Affordable Care Act, which creates penalties for Americans who don’t have health insurance coverage. . .

This change would create more than $300 billion in budget space because of the money that would be saved in Medicaid spending and other programs, but it would also lead health insurance premiums to increase and more than 13 million fewer people to have health insurance in several years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Link:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/2017/11/30/c2118302-d5e7-11e7-a986-d0a9770d9a3e_story.html?utm_term=.8352341853e1






Please call your Senators TODAY (FRIDAY), especially if they are Republican, and tell them to vote NO on the Republican tax bill!

To find out how to contact your Senators, please go here:    https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm


In particular, if you live in these states, please call your Senators TODAY, FRIDAY:

John McCain (AZ)  (202) 224-2235
Jeff Flake (Arizona) (202-224-4521 
Susan Collins (Maine)  (202) 224-2523 
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323


Remember what is at stake:  low- and middle income persons and families will pay higher taxes while the very wealthy and corporations will get permanent tax cuts, AND domestic programs designed to help low- and middle-income folks like Medicare, Medicaid and the federal student loan program and more will be cut if the Republican tax bills are passed!  In addition, the partial REPEAL OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT will result in 13 million to become uninsured and will RAISE health care premiums, with those with pre-existing conditions especially facing higher costs!


_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

163default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:36 am

Poppy

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So the Senate passed their Republican Tax bill in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  It is laughable that although they were expected to pass the bill on Friday, the delay resulted because so many new changes had to be written into the final bill. 

Media is reporting about all the last minute additions that were inserted into the bill to basically "buy" the votes of the Republican Senators who had concerns.  At the end, only one Republican Senator voted no on the tax bill.  Yup, that's right folks.  John McCain's legacy is voting for a tax bill that will hurt the poor and middle class, and result in millions of Americans being uninsured and raising premiums, especially for those who are older and with health concerns.   Way to flip, John.  Same with you, Susan Collins.


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164default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:49 am

Poppy

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The Republican Senate tax bill repeals part of the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"), and by doing so, the Republican tax bill will cause 13 million people to lose their health insurance and will cause premiums to increase for those who are older and less healthy, especially those with pre-existing conditions. 


There is so much that is reprehensible about the Republican tax bill:  The process by which they wrote it in secret, with no public hearings, resulting in denying the public and others an opportunity to be heard, an opportunity to comment, thus by-passing "regular order" that John McCain once insisted should be followed (so disappointed in John McCain and Susan Collins); that the tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporations are permanent; that tax cuts for the poor and middle-class are temporary, so that many will over time have increased taxes; that the Republicans heartlessly target certain groups of people to to deny them previous tax deductions, even though these individuals and their families need these monetary savings the most (such as people with large medical expenses which includes those with special needs kids, those in nursing homes, and those with pre-existing conditions, teachers who use their own funds to pay for school supplies, and college and graduate students); and that these huge tax cuts to the very wealthy and corporations will result in loss of federal revenue and thus will need to be paid by cuts to domestic programs, with most experts anticipating large cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and possibly even Social Security (yeah, I guess Susan Collins and John McCain were not that concerned about Medicaid cuts affecting their constituents after all).



The New Yorker wrote:
The Passage of the Senate Republican Tax Bill Was a Travesty

December 2, 2017

Four G.O.P. senators who had been mentioned as possible holdouts—Susan Collins, of Maine; Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska; and John McCain and Jeff Flake, of Arizona—all voted for a proposal that is unnecessary, unfair, and still largely unexamined.

. . .  it’s now perfectly possible that President Trump will get to sign the final legislation before Christmas. If that happens, the process of getting there will have been a travesty of the legislative process.

When a Republican Administration last conducted a thorough overhaul of the tax code, in 1986, there were more than a dozen hearings in Congress, and the process took more than six months. This time, there have been no public hearings, and the measure is being rushed through in a few weeks, with virtually no transparency. This isn’t “regular order”—the term McCain used when he voted no in the health-care vote. It is brazen power politics carried out by a Republican Party desperate for a legislative victory.

[. . . ]

The last-minute haggling and rewriting resulted in a bill even more skewed toward the rich. To buy the votes of Senators Steve Daines, of Montana, and Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, the G.O.P. leadership agreed to further sweeten the pot for owners of unincorporated businesses who declare their profits as “pass through” income on their personal tax returns. Although Daines and Johnson claimed that they were trying to help owners of small businesses, the fact is that the richest one per cent of households receive more than half of all the pass-through income the economy generates. Donald Trump, who owns dozens of pass-through ventures, is a member of this group, and as a result of the bill he could see his marginal tax rate reduced from 39.6 per cent to below thirty per cent.

As tax experts raced through the final text, they discovered other giveaways to the one per cent—indeed, to the 0.001 per cent. They included the retention of the infamous carried-interest deduction, which allows hedge-fund managers and private-equity tycoons to pay a lower tax rate on their profits than the one many middle-class families face. During last year’s campaign, Trump promised to abolish this scandalous loophole, but that turned out to be one of his many fake pledges.

[. . .]

. . .
the bill also included the repeal of the individual mandate to purchase health-care insurance, a provision that would undo much of the good Collins did when she voted against the Republican health-care bill. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it would raise the number of uninsured Americans by thirteen million, and raise the premiums on individual plans by ten per cent. Using a tax bill to abolish the individual mandate amounts to a backdoor way of sabotaging Obamacare. Collins, Murkowski, and McCain have yet to explain why they went along with it.

[. . . ]

Corker, to his credit, voted no. McCain, who, in 2001, voted against the Bush tax cuts on the grounds that they were fiscally irresponsible, voted yes this time without comment.

[. . .]

In keeping with what had gone before, the Senate eventually passed the bill in the dead of night, shortly before 2 A.M., when virtually nobody was watching. McConnell, secure in the knowledge that his side had won, didn’t bother to speak before the vote, which was 51–49 in favor of the bill. Didn’t someone say that democracy dies in darkness?
 
Link:  https://www.newyorker.com/sections/news/the-passage-of-the-senate-republican-tax-bill-was-a-travesty


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165default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:10 am

Poppy

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So the House and the Senate are working on "reconciling" their different versions of their respective tax bills.  I'm not sure when there will be a vote in either house, but media is reporting that they are expecting to pass their tax bills AND deliver the bill to Trump for his signature at the latest, before the holiday recess (by December 15).






Please, please keep calling your Senator and your House of Representatives-- especially if they are Republican-- and urge them to vote NO on the Republican tax bill for the reasons I stated in the previous post. 


House of Representatives


If you live in California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Alaska, Maine, West Virginia and Tennessee, it is especially important that you call your Republican House of Representative. 

Dana Rohrbacher (CA)  (202) 225-2415
Tom McClintock (CA)  (202) 225-2511
Darrell Issa (CA)  (202.225.3906
Lee Zeldin (NY)  (202) 225-3826
Elise Stefanik (NY)  (202) 225-4611
Pete King (NY)  (202) 225-7896
Dan Donovan (NY) (202) 225-3371
John Faso (NY)  (202) 225-5614
Chris Smith (NJ)  (202) 225-3765
Leonard Lance (NJ)  (202) 225-5361
Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ)  (202) 225-5034
Ryan Costello (PA)  (202) 225-4315

You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.   You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/




Senate

The below Senators are especially critical:

John McCain (AZ)  (202) 224-2235
Jeff Flake (Arizona) (202-224-4521 
Susan Collins (Maine)  (202) 224-2523 
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323


To find out how to contact your Senators, please go here:    https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm






_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

166default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:36 am

Poppy

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The media continues to report on the negative consequences of this tax bill:

--the tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporations are permanent;

--tax cuts for the poor and middle-class are temporary, so that while many will get tax cuts at first, many will over time have increased taxes;

--the Republicans heartlessly target certain groups of people by denying  them tax deductions that were used by millions of people before the Republican tax bill.  These individuals and their families need these monetary savings the most.  Thus, the following persons will be hurt by the taking away of these deductions:  (a)  people with large medical expenses which includes those with special needs kids, those in nursing homes, and those with pre-existing conditions, (b) teachers who use their own funds to pay for school supplies, (c) college students who take out student loans and graduate students (d) Universities that have endowments that reduce the costs of college education for college students by providing scholarships, (e) Home owners, (f) people who live in states with high state and local taxes (h) charities that receive donations that once were deductible (g) persons who suffered property losses due to certain natural disasters such as the fires in California, (however, the tax bill has specifically stated that persons who suffered losses due to the hurricanes will be able to deduct their losses)--do you get the message that the Republicans in Congress couldn't care less if people in blue states suffer?

--Large tax cuts to the very wealthy and corporations will result in loss of federal revenue and thus according to Republicans, will need to be paid by cuts to domestic programs.  Just recently, on December 6, Paul Ryan announced that congressional Republicans will next aim on reducing spending on federal health care such as Medicare, and anti-poverty programs such as welfare.   So expect large cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and possibly even Social Security (thus hurting seniors, low-income children, and those with disabilities)

--the tax bill is a backdoor way to repeal the Affordable Card Act by repealing the central principle of that health care law that is vital to  making it work (Republican tax bill will repeal the individual mandate of the ACA).  13 million people will lose their health care and premiums will rise 10%. 


Other articles to read:
--"College Students:  Here's why you could pay more in the Republican tax bill."  Link:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/12/08/what-college-students-need-watch-republican-tax-bill-enters-home-stretch/930044001/


-"Millions would lose mortgage, gift write-offs under U.S. tax bill:  study"  Link:  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-tax-itemizing/millions-would-lose-mortgage-gift-write-offs-under-u-s-tax-bill-study-idUSKBN1E206I


--"The Tax Bill is Bad for Homeowners, Good for Landlords"  Link:  https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-12-08/the-tax-bill-is-bad-for-homeowners-good-for-landlords


--"Tax Bill Offers Last-Minute Breaks for Developers, Bankds and Oil Industry"  Link:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/02/business/tax-bill-offers-last-minute-breaks-for-developers-banks-and-oil-industry.html




Please, please keep calling your Senator and your House of Representatives-- especially if they are Republican-- and urge them to vote NO on the Republican tax bill . 


House of Representatives


If you live in California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Alaska, Maine, West Virginia and Tennessee, it is especially important that you call your Republican House of Representative. 

Dana Rohrbacher (CA)  (202) 225-2415
Tom McClintock (CA)  (202) 225-2511
Darrell Issa (CA)  (202.225.3906
Lee Zeldin (NY)  (202) 225-3826
Elise Stefanik (NY)  (202) 225-4611
Pete King (NY)  (202) 225-7896
Dan Donovan (NY) (202) 225-3371
John Faso (NY)  (202) 225-5614
Chris Smith (NJ)  (202) 225-3765
Leonard Lance (NJ)  (202) 225-5361
Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ)  (202) 225-5034
Ryan Costello (PA)  (202) 225-4315

You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.   You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/




Senate

The below Senators are especially critical:

John McCain (AZ)  (202) 224-2235
Jeff Flake (Arizona) (202-224-4521 
Susan Collins (Maine)  (202) 224-2523 
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323


To find out how to contact your Senators, please go here:    https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm






_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

167default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sat Dec 09, 2017 1:17 pm

Poppy

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The result of increasing the deficit by $1.4 trillion because of loss of revenue due to giant tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporations (if the Republicans' tax bill passes next week)-->   Part 2 of the Republicans' plan is to attack domestic programs that are safety nets for the elderly, low income folks, and those with disabilities. 

From the beginning, the media guessed correctly that if the Republicans are successful in passing their tax bill for the wealthy and for corporations, then the next step is for the Republicans to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and possibly Social Security.  Now that the Republicans can taste victory because they assume they will be able to get passage of the tax bill, we have Trump, Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Senator Hatch (R-Utah) proudly announcing that they next plan to take steps to cut domestic programs (do they not care that such cuts will cause misery and possibly death to those who depend on these federal programs for health care, and for food)?

But there is still a chance to defeat the Republican's tax bill, but only if people get on the backs of their House of Representatives and Senators to vote NO on the Republican tax bill. 

People need to make their voices heard.  Complain.  Call your House of Representative.  Call your Senator.  Protest at their local and Washington D.C. offices. 



Both houses of Congress will vote next week, before their holiday recess, to deliver their bill to Trump for his signature (which is expected before Christmas). 



Please CALL NOW!




Quote of the day: 
Paul Ryan (Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives) wrote:
December 6, 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wednesday that congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs, citing the need to reduce America's deficit.

"We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit," Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky's talk radio show. ". . . Frankly, it's the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements - because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking."

"Now, let's just be honest about it: We're in trouble. This country is in deep debt. You don't help the poor by not solving the problems of debt, and you don't help the poor by continually pushing more and more liberal programs through."
Source:  "Paul Ryan Says Republicans to target welfare, Medicare, Medicaid spending in 2018"  Link:   http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-republican-welfare-cuts-20171206-story.html


In addition, "Trump recently called on Congress to move to cut welfare spending after the tax bill."   And Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) also attacked "liberal programs" for the poor, and said Congress needed to stop wasting Americans' money.  -Chicago Tribune

Translation:  Spending money for the wealthy and corporations is good (because they are large donors to the Republicans' congressional and presidential campaigns), but spending money for the elderly, the poor, and those with disabilities is a waste (because Republicans generally don't care about anyone who cannot help them with the Republicans' political campaigns?).  What a humane view.  Their motto:  Self interest above giving a helping hand to those in need.  They should hire me to be their speech-writer. 




-


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Photo Credit: narmdaddy

168default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:00 am

Poppy

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WE STILL HAVE A CHANCE TO DEFEAT THE REPUBLICAN TAX BILL, but we must communicate to our House of Representatives and Senators--especially if they are Republican--and tell them that they must vote NO on their tax bill!

We must tell our House and Senate members that we expect them to vote NO on a bill that will hurt so many low-income and middle-income constituents. 

We must tell our House and Senate member that lowering taxes for the very wealthy and for corporations (who donate to congressional political campaigns) is not a good reason to vote for this bill.  


We must make sure to tell our Representative and Senators that we expect them to represent the best interests of their constituents, and this Republican tax bill is NOT in the interest of their constituents!



Hello Giggles wrote:
December 8, 2017

A week ago, on December 1st, the Senate voted to pass the new Republican tax bill. Amid cries that the bill would be disastrous for many Americans, we began to feel like this was the beginning of the end. But the fight over the tax plan isn’t over. Here’s what you can do to stop it.

Two different versions of the bill were passed in the House and the Senate. This means that either the Senate bill will be passed in its entirety, or, more likely, the two branches of Congress will have to reconcile their two bills to create one law.

As an example of their differences, the Senate bill repeals Obamacare’s requirement that every person have health insurance, while the House bill makes no mention of Obamacare.

If the House decides to make changes to the Senate bill, it could trigger another vote in the Senate. And the Republicans’ hold on the Senate is much weaker than in the House; Republicans have 52 out of 100 seats. If just three Senate Republicans voted against a revised tax bill, it would fail.

And it just so happens that three Republican Senators are on the fence about the bill. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who has repeatedly voted to preserve health care, told a Maine CBS affiliate that she would not commit to voting for the final tax bill until she knows whether or not it will impact Obamacare. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee voted against the bill on December 1st. And Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona could redact his “yes” if Republican Senators don’t follow through on their promise to find a new way to protect former DACA recipient

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do after a loss. Not this time.
This tax bill is only going to get worse as people learn more about it. There are 6 GOP Senators that have to run on it & 2 open seats in 2018. We all need to get to work.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) December 2, 2017

I’m heading back to the Senate floor this morning to fight with everything I’ve got to defeat the GOP’s immoral tax plan. But I need you to help me out. Please call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on this bill: (202) 224-3121.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) December 1, 2017

We can still stop this tax scam from devastating American health care. These 24 House members are @ProtectOurCare targets on the devastating health provisions included in the bill. Call them now and tell them not to gut health care to give tax breaks to the rich: 202-224-3121./1 pic.twitter.com/XLggZzvPxm
— Brad Woodhouse (@woodhouseb) December 4, 2017

Anyone who makes less than 100k a year will be screwed by this tax bill. First, they start with the people who make 10k a year. This is our government under trump. Call your reps. Flake, McCain, Murkowski, Collins. Call them and stop this.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) November 28, 2017

With such narrow support for the tax bill in the Senate, it’s important to call or text your representatives and voice your opposition to the tax reform bill — even if you just leave a voicemail. The Senate directory can be found here. And the House directory can be found here. If you have the ability, you can also join a public protest of the bill.


Sadly, there’s no guarantee that our efforts will stop the bill. But with such huge consequences if the bill becomes law, it’s important that we do what we can to make change. heart
Source:  "Ways you can fight the disastrous Republican tax bill right now"  Link:  https://hellogiggles.com/news/ways-fight-tax-bill/





The Washington Post wrote:
December 2

As Republicans moved closer to a final vote on the bill Friday night, they made several tweaks to the tax legislation. They announced more benefits for business owners, particularly wealthy ones, but they voted down a proposal by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to give low-income families a bigger tax break.

The disparate treatment underlined how the legislation — a massive rewrite of the individual and corporate tax code — has evolved since its first incarnation: What began as an effort that would favor wealthy individuals and corporations became, in many ways, even more tilted in their favor as the legislation made its way through the Senate.

[. . . ]

[The Senate votes against a proposal by Senators Marco Rubio and mike Lee to give low-income families a bigger tax break, because doing so would increase the tax rate for corporations.]  That came after a series of other changes that took away from working-class and middle-class families benefits that had been in an earlier version of the bill.

[In the Senate,] they made the bill’s tax cuts affecting individuals temporaryending in 2025 — while leaving in place ones that benefit corporations. The move would lead to a tax hike on many Americans in the middle of the next decade.

Likewise, when they needed to find additional ways to finance the corporate tax cut, leaders targeted the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate for elimination. Such a move would lead 13 million to drop health insurance, including 5 million on Medicaid, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

“It clearly makes inequality worse
. The primary beneficiaries are the highest-income taxpayers,” said Adam Looney, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution who served as deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis in the Obama administration.

[. . . ]

“If this is our only major tax reform for another 30 years, then I think it’s a great disappointment,” said Alan Auerbach, a tax expert at the University of California at Berkeley who has co-authored research with the head of President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers. Republicans “could have done much better,” said Auerbach. “Most of the benefits go to very high-income people.”

[. . . ]

According to the most recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the average taxpayer earning about $50,000 to $85,000 will get a tax cut of $850 in 2019. Meanwhile, the average taxpayer earning more than $1 million will get $34,130 in tax cuts.

The disparity grows even wider a decade down the road after the tax cuts for individuals expire.

[. . . ]

Some economists fear that the inequality created by the bill will deepen social divisions that have been on display across the United States and other Western countries in recent years.

Source:  "How an Unequal tax cut grew more unequal"  Link:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/as-tax-bill-evolved-benefits-for-corporations-and-the-wealthy-grew/2017/12/01/17f1478e-d6c0-11e7-b62d-d9345ced896d_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-high_taxanalysis-830pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.ab002decd4d6




Please call every day THIS WEEK!  Please, please keep calling your Senators and your House of Representative THIS WEEK-- especially if they are Republican-- and urge them to vote NO on the Republican tax bill.






House of Representatives


If you live in California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Alaska, Maine, West Virginia and Tennessee, it is especially important that you call your Republican House of Representative. 

Dana Rohrbacher (CA)  (202) 225-2415
Tom McClintock (CA)  (202) 225-2511
Darrell Issa (CA)  (202.225.3906
Lee Zeldin (NY)  (202) 225-3826
Elise Stefanik (NY)  (202) 225-4611
Pete King (NY)  (202) 225-7896
Dan Donovan (NY) (202) 225-3371
John Faso (NY)  (202) 225-5614
Chris Smith (NJ)  (202) 225-3765
Leonard Lance (NJ)  (202) 225-5361
Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ)  (202) 225-5034
Ryan Costello (PA)  (202) 225-4315

You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.   You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/




Senate

The below Senators are especially critical:

John McCain (AZ)  (202) 224-2235
Jeff Flake (Arizona) (202-224-4521 
Susan Collins (Maine)  (202) 224-2523 
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323


To find out how to contact your Senators, please go here:    https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm




NOTE:   A new texting service run by a group of concerned citizens is also available for those who are shy of calling their Representative or Senators (or if the phone lines are always busy).   The new texting service is called "Resistbot."  You enter your name and the zip code.  The texting service then finds your local elected officials and you are then prompted to write what you want to tell them (such as:  "Vote NO on the Republican tax bill because it hurts low-income and middles class people, in order to lower taxes for the very wealthy and for corporations."  Resistbot also sends your message to your two Senators, and you can request that your message be sent to your House of Representative (which is important to do as well).  Source:  "This is how you can text your elected officials."  Link:  https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/technology/this-is-how-you-can-text-your-elected-officials/


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_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

169default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:35 pm

Poppy

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Administrator
Administrator
Tomorrow Tuesday December 12, is the special election to fill the Senate seat in Alabama, left vacated when Jeff Sessions became U.S. Attorney General. 

The candidates are Democrat Doug Jones, and Republican Roy Moore,

The election has been receiving a huge amount of attention, due to the allegations by nine (yes, I said nine) women that Republican Moore engaged in sexual "misconduct" against these women when they were young teens, as young as age 14 years, when he was in his thirties and was a district attorney.  

If you or anyone you know--your friends, your acquaintance, or your family--live in Alabama, please vote for Democrat Doug Jones.  If you cannot vote for Democrat Doug Jones, please write in an alternative choice to Roy Moore.  

Do we really want someone like Moore, who a respected media source (Washington Post)--in a well researched article--makes a case against, regarding Moore's sexual misconduct of young girls between the ages of 14-18?   

Even Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said they believe the women accusing Roy Moore of sexual misconduct when these women were minors or teens. 

The Republican National Committee at first decided to no longer support Moore financially, but after Trump stated his support for Roy Moore, the RNC renewed their support for Roy Moore. 

The most disgraceful and objectionable allegations involve Leigh Corfman and Beverly Young Nelson.

Time wrote:
November 17, 2017

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with 14-year-old Leigh Corfman when he was a 32-year-old district attorney. The Post investigation also quoted three other accusers who said that Moore pursued relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.

Five other women have since come forward with their own allegations against Moore . . .

[ . . . ]

“I believe the women,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “I think he should step aside.”

[. . . ]

Leigh Corfman

The allegations: Leigh Corfman told the Washington Post that she met Moore in 1979 when she was just 14 years old. The then-district attorney offered to watch Corfman while her mother attended a custody hearing, she said, and he asked for her phone number when he was alone with her. Corfman said that days later, Moore drove her to his house and kissed her. During a second encounter, he allegedly took off her shirt and pants and touched her over her underwear and led her hands to touch him over his underwear. “I wanted it over with,” Corfman told the Post.

[. . . ]

Wendy Miller

The allegations: Wendy Miller told the Post that she met Moore when she was 14 and working at Gadsden Mall. She claimed that Moore asked her out on dates when she was 16, but her mother forbid her from going out with Moore. Miller said that she was flattered at the time. “Now that I’ve gotten older, the idea that a grown man would want to take out a teenager, that’s disgusting to me,” she told the Post.


[. . . ]

Beverly Young Nelson


The allegations: In a press conference on Nov. 13, Beverly Young Nelson said that Moore sexually assaulted her in 1977 when she was just 16. She claims that Moore offered to drive her home from her job waitressing at a restaurant and then groped her and forced her head toward his crotch. She said that she had first met Moore at the restaurant she worked at when she was 15. She said he frequently complimented her appearance and signed her yearbook with the note: “To a sweeter, more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Love Roy Moore, D.A.”
Source:  "More Women Are Accusing Roy Moore of Sexual Misconduct.  Here's Everything You Need to Know About the Scandal."  Link:  http://time.com/5029172/roy-moore-accusers/




Here is the original Washington Post article that broke the news about Roy Moore:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/woman-says-roy-moore-initiated-sexual-encounter-when-she-was-14-he-was-32/2017/11/09/1f495878-c293-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html?utm_term=.db3e0b74be73



Here is the press conference where Beverly Young Nelson speaks at a press conference about her  experience.  She starts speaking at point 7:05.   The part where she talks about her scary experience in the car starts at point 11:20.

CBS News Nov 13, 2017





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_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

170default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:55 am

Poppy

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Oh man, I am stunned and relieved to see that Democrat Doug Jones is the "apparent" winner of the Senate race against Roy Moore in Alabama. 

So far reports are that African-American voters and young voters had high voter-turnout, and were absolutely crucial to Doug Jones's victory. 

I am so pleasantly surprised about this victory!


_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

171default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:48 am

Poppy

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Well, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) repealed "net neutrality" today.   This is a scary defeat.  Without net neutrality which was instituted during the Obama administration, internet service providers have the power to decide which websites can run faster . . . or slower to users.  Just think about that.   If it's difficult to get information on certain news media sites (like the New York Times or Washington Post) but easier to get information on other sites (like Fox news). . .


News about the Republican tax bill:

The Senate and the House of Representatives reached a compromise version of the two tax bills on Wednesday.  Their plan is to reveal the merged  Republican tax bill today (Friday), then vote on the tax bill early next week, and have Trump sign the bill by Christmas.  The Republicans are working on passing this tax bill at an amazing speed, because the more news that is reported on it, and the more time for people to protest the bill, the more difficult is it to pass the bill.

Here is my understanding of what the Republican tax bill contains (although it seems to change from day to day, so assuming no last minute changes occur):



The Good:

This merged version of the tax bill gives back valued deductions that earlier versions of the bill had eliminated.  Thus these items will not be repealed by this tax bill and happily remain available for people to use:  Deductions for high medical expenses; deductions for college students based on interest on student loans; and graduate students who receive tuition stipends will continue to avoid paying taxes on that benefit.   I'm very happy that these items were not repealed by the Republicans.  The deduction for high medical expenses is especially important for persons who were already suffering economically from large medical expenses, and suffering emotionally and physically from serious health conditions.

The Bad (there is a lot!). 

The Republican tax bill will:

--Repeal the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which experts view as the “glue” to keep health insurance under the Affordable Care Act “affordable” and economical—thus causing 4 million people  to lose health insurance in 2019, and 13 million people to lose health insurance in 2027, as well as a 10 percent increase in premiums

-- Cut the corporate tax rate to  21 percent, rather than the current 35  percent rate; and the cut would take effect in 2018 (because corporations are people too and need help the most *sarcasm*)

--Allow some high-earning business owners to claim an even larger tax break than the Senate bill would have.  That deduction is likely to be lower than the 23 percent deduction in the Senate-passed bill.

--Eliminate the individual  alternative minimum tax (the alternative minimum tax was created to guarantee wealthy individuals would pay at least a minimum tax, despite the wealthy being skilled at using loop holes to avoid paying taxes).  The alternative minimum tax was eliminated by the Republican tax bill, then kept , then eliminated--so who knows if they keep it or not in the final bill.  My guess is that they will eliminate it because again, the Republicans' main motivation for this tax bill is to keep happy their wealthy donors who fund their political campaigns (if kept, it  will apply to fewer wealthy taxpayers than previously)

--Lower the top individual tax rate to  37 percent for the wealthiest Americans, who currently pay 39.6 percent

--Cap the popular deduction for interest on mortgage debt at $750,000 for newly purchased homes, (this will hurt homeowners in states with high property values)

--Allow deductions for state and local taxes, but only up to $10,000 (whether such a deduction is based on property taxes, or income or sales taxes).  This is a huge issue for states with high state and local taxes, with potentially huge economic consequences way down the future for these states.  If this particular item remains in the tax bill, expect the Republicans who vote in support of the tax bill to be especially targeted in the mid-term election.


A news report stated that a result of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act being repealed by the Republican tax bill is that:

NBC wrote:
Dec. 14, 2017

“Having young and healthy people as part of the insurance pool helps keep premiums manageable for everyone,” a coalition of health and consumer groups, including the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Lung Association, said in a joint statement.

Insurance companies have already said that without the mandate, they’ll have to raise premiums and pass on other costs to people who do have health insurance.

[. . . ]

[If the Republican tax bill repeals the “individual mandate” part of the Affordable Care Act, then] “the number of people with health insurance would decrease by 4 million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027,” the CBO said.

[. . .]

Health insurance premiums in this nongroup market [who get their health insurance through the Obamacare markets] will go up by 10 percent, the CBO predicted.

This will hit one group in particular, according to the Commonwealth Fund, which conducts studies in health policy and released a report Thursday on the Affordable Care Act.


“People who buy their own coverage on the individual market and who have incomes above 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $48,200 for an individual and $98,400 for a family of four) — the threshold for ACA premium subsidies — would face the brunt of the premium increase,” it [the Commonwealth Fund, which conducts studies in health policy] said.

A 40-year-old customer buying health insurance on one of the federal exchanges would pay $556 more in premiums in North Dakota and $1,264 more in Nebraska, the group calculated.
Source:  "Tax bill kills health insurance mandate.  Who will pay more?"  Link:  https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-care/tax-bill-kills-health-insurance-mandate-who-will-pay-more-n829846




Also, today, media is reporting that Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee wish to expand the child tax credit, would would help lower-income people . 


Tax negotiators didn’t have much trouble finding a way to lower the the top tax bracket and to start the corporate tax cut a year early. 1/2
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) Dec. 14, 2017



And another Republican Senator, Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) was surprisingly honest by stating:  "We’re literally trying to squeeze about $2 trillion in tax reform into a $1.5 trillion box, and that’s been a problem.”



So please keep calling!  Please, please keep calling your Senators and your House of Representative -- especially if they are Republican-- THIS WEEK AND NEXT WEEK UP TO THE DAY OF THE VOTE, and urge them to vote NO on the Republican tax bill.



House of Representatives


If you live in California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Alaska, Maine, West Virginia and Tennessee, it is especially important that you call your Republican House of Representative. 

Dana Rohrbacher (CA)  (202) 225-2415
Tom McClintock (CA)  (202) 225-2511

Darrell Issa (CA)  (202.225.3906
Lee Zeldin (NY)  (202) 225-3826
Elise Stefanik (NY)  (202) 225-4611
Pete King (NY)  (202) 225-7896
Dan Donovan (NY) (202) 225-3371
John Faso (NY)  (202) 225-5614
Chris Smith (NJ)  (202) 225-3765
Leonard Lance (NJ)  (202) 225-5361
Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ)  (202) 225-5034
Ryan Costello (PA)  (202) 225-4315

You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.   You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/




Senate

The below Senators are especially critical:

Marco Rubio (FL) 
202) 224-3041
Mike Lee (Utah)
(202) 224-5444
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323
John McCain (AZ) 
(202) 224-2235

Jeff Flake (Arizona) (202-224-4521 
Susan Collins (Maine)  (202) 224-2523 
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665




To find out how to contact your Senators, please go here:    https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm




NOTE:   A new texting service run by a group of concerned citizens is also available for those who are shy of calling their Representative or Senators (or if the phone lines are always busy).   The new texting service is called "Resistbot."  You enter your name and the zip code.  The texting service then finds your local elected officials and you are then prompted to write what you want to tell them (such as:  "Vote NO on the Republican tax bill because it hurts low-income and middles class people, in order to lower taxes for the very wealthy and for corporations."  Resistbot also sends your message to your two Senators, and you can request that your message be sent to your House of Representative (which is important to do as well).  Source:  "This is how you can text your elected officials."  Link:  https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/technology/this-is-how-you-can-text-your-elected-officials/


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_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

172default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:36 pm

Poppy

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Administrator
Administrator
So Congress is expected to vote on the Republican tax bill next week.  Media is reporting the vote may occur probably on Tuesday. 



So tomorrow (Monday) and for every day until the vote, please, please continue to call both your House of Representative and your Senators, especially if they are Republican, and tell them to vote NO on the Republican tax bill.   This bill can hurt so many people, including some of the most vulnerable people:  Persons with disabilities, low-income people, and seniors.


The New York Times wrote:
The Winners and Losers in the Tax Bill

Dec 16,  2017


Real estate developers and technology companies could see big tax cuts, while low-income households and people buying health insurance could lose out.

[. . . ]


WINNERS


PRESIDENT TRUMP AND HIS FAMILY
Numerous industries will benefit from the Republican tax overhaul, but perhaps none as dramatically as the industry where Mr. Trump earned his riches: commercial real estate. Mr. Trump, along with his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is part owner of his own real estate firm, will benefit from lower taxes on so-called “pass through” income, which is money earned by partnerships and other types of businesses whose income is passed through to its owner and taxed at the individual tax rate. Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner benefit since they own properties through limited liability companies and other similar vehicles.

Under current law, that income is taxed at rates as high as 39.6 percent. Under the bill, much of that income could be taxed at a rate as low as 29.6 percent,
subject to some limitations. Real estate also avoided new limits on interest deductions and retained its ability to defer taxes on the exchange of similar kinds of properties. The benefits of lower rates on pass-through income will extend to Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner’s partners at real estate investment trusts as well. At the last minute, lawmakers added language to make it easier for real estate owners to avoid some of the pass-through provision’s restrictions and maximize the tax benefits even more.

BIG CORPORATIONS
Industries like big retailers will benefit from the new corporate rate of 21 percent, since those companies pay relatively close to the full 35 percent rate. Other aspects of the corporate tax cuts will be enjoyed by an array of multinational industries, particularly technology and pharmaceutical companies, like Google, Facebook, Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. Such multinational companies have accumulated nearly $3 trillion offshore, mostly in tax haven subsidiaries, untouched by the United States taxman. The tax bill will force those companies to gradually bring that money home, but it will be taxed at rates ranging from 8 percent to 15.5 percent. That’s far lower than the current 35 percent tax rate on corporate profits and even lower than the new 21 percent rate.

Plus, American companies will no longer owe full corporate taxes on future profits they say they earn abroad, providing more incentive to push income into tax haven subsidiaries. The law even includes provisions that could encourage companies to move workers abroad, despite pledges to do the opposite.


MULTIMILLIONAIRES
An exemption for estates that owe what Republicans call the “death tax” was lifted to $22 million from $11 million . . .
Plus, the top rate applying to wages and interest income would be cut to 37 percent from 39.6 percent.

PRIVATE EQUITY MANAGERS
During the campaign, Donald Trump railed against wealthy investment managers who, thanks to the so-called carried interest loophole, pay taxes on the majority of their pay at a lower capital gains rates. But the purported reform to this tax provision will affect few if any private equity managers, leaving the loophole intact.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND THE PEOPLE WHO CAN AFFORD THEM
Parents would be eligible to use a type of tax-preferred savings plan — known as a 529 plan — to save for their children’s elementary and secondary education. Right now, those savings plans are only eligible for college. But they would be expanded to allow for up to $10,000 a year for tuition at private and religious schools.

THE LIQUOR BUSINESS
Excise taxes for small brewers and distillers are reduced in the final agreement . .  .They also have strong lobbyists, and many are based in states with powerful senators, like Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. Mr. Portman, who tucked a provision to help craft brewers into the Senate legislation, was part of the small team of lawmakers who merged the two bills into a final version.
[ . . . ]

TAX ACCOUNTANTS AND LAWYERS
Mr. Trump once said his “dream” was to put tax preparation services out of business by simplifying the tax code. But the rushed legislation will probably have the opposite effect, as individuals try and make sense of the complicated new provisions, staggered dates and new rates. The uncertainty and confusion will probably create numerous new opportunities to game the system . . .


LOSERS


PEOPLE BUYING HEALTH INSURANCE
With the repeal of the individual mandate . . . According to the Congressional Budget Office, healthier people are more likely to drop their insurance, leaving insurers stuck with more people who are older and ailing. This is expected to make average insurance premiums on the individual market go up by about 10 percent. All told, 13 million fewer Americans are projected to have health coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYERS IN THE FUTURE
To stay under the $1.5 trillion limit for new deficits lawmakers set for themselves, they opted to make the cuts for individuals and families temporary, expiring at the end of 2025 — even as the corporate tax cuts will be permanent . . . What is more, the use of a different, less generous measure of inflation would push taxpayers into higher tax brackets more quickly.

THE ELDERLY
A 2010 law requires that any legislation that adds to the federal deficit be paid for by spending cuts, increases in revenue or other offsets. Some cuts would be automatic, and the biggest program to be affected is Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly and disabled. Dozens of other programs are likely to be cut as well, but Medicare, which would face a 4 percent cut, is by far the biggest . . .

LOW-INCOME FAMILIES
Low-income families who claim the earned-income tax credit will lose out on at least $19 billion over the coming decade under the bill because of the change in the way inflation is calculated. And a new requirement that families claiming the child tax credit provide a Social Security number is projected to mean a big reduction in the families claiming it, since those who are not in the United States legally would be prohibited, even if their children were born in the United States.

OWNERS OF HIGH-END HOMES
Under current law, the interest on mortgages for first and second homes is deductible for the first $1 million of the loan. The overhaul would cut that to the first $750,000 and eliminate the owner’s ability in the current law to deduct the interest on a home-equity loan up to $100,000. This could drive down home prices in some high-end markets; good for prospective buyers but bad for prospective sellers.

PEOPLE IN HIGH PROPERTY TAX, HIGH INCOME STATES
Homeowners in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California could be big losers, particularly if they have high property taxes. Their ability to deduct their local property taxes and state and local income taxes from their federal tax bills is now capped at $10,000, . . .

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico had sought an exemption from new taxes, citing the frail state of its economy nearly three months after Hurricane Maria. But no such luck. The tax bill treats affiliates of American companies on the island as if Puerto Rico were a foreign country and imposes a 12.5 percent tax on intellectual property. Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló, said the tax would hurt the biomedical and technology affiliates that make up about a third of Puerto Rico’s tax base.
 
"The Winners and Losers in the Tax Bill."  Link:  
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/16/business/the-winners-and-losers-in-the-tax-bill.html
 



So please keep calling!  Please, please keep calling both your Senators and your House of Representative -- especially if they are Republican-- TOMORROW (MONDAY) AND UP TO THE DAY OF THE VOTE, and urge them to vote NO on the Republican tax bill.



House of Representatives


If you live in California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Alaska, Maine, West Virginia and Tennessee, it is especially important that you call your Republican House of Representative. 

Dana Rohrbacher (CA)  (202) 225-2415
Tom McClintock (CA)  (202) 225-2511
Darrell Issa (CA)  (202.225.3906
Lee Zeldin (NY)  (202) 225-3826
Elise Stefanik (NY)  (202) 225-4611
Pete King (NY)  (202) 225-7896
Dan Donovan (NY) (202) 225-3371
John Faso (NY)  (202) 225-5614
Chris Smith (NJ)  (202) 225-3765
Leonard Lance (NJ)  (202) 225-5361
Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ)  (202) 225-5034
Ryan Costello (PA)  (202) 225-4315

You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.   You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/




Senate

The below Senators are especially critical:

Marco Rubio (FL) 
202) 224-3041
Mike Lee (Utah)
(202) 224-5444
Bob Corker (TN)  (202) 224-3344
Ron Johnson (WI)  (202) 224-5323
John McCain (AZ) 
(202) 224-2235

Jeff Flake (Arizona) (202-224-4521 
Susan Collins (Maine)  (202) 224-2523 
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)  (202) 224-6665




To find out how to contact your Senators, please go here:    https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm




NOTE:   A new texting service run by a group of concerned citizens is also available for those who are shy of calling their Representative or Senators (or if the phone lines are always busy).   The new texting service is called "Resistbot."  You enter your name and the zip code.  The texting service then finds your local elected officials and you are then prompted to write what you want to tell them (such as:  "Vote NO on the Republican tax bill because it hurts low-income and middles class people, in order to lower taxes for the very wealthy and for corporations."  Resistbot also sends your message to your two Senators, and you can request that your message be sent to your House of Representative (which is important to do as well).  Source:  "This is how you can text your elected officials."  Link:  https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/technology/this-is-how-you-can-text-your-elected-officials/


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_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

173default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:19 am

Poppy

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Administrator
Administrator
Well, the Senate passed the Republican tax bill.  The House also passed it, but has to re-vote on it tomorrow.   Protests continue to occur around the country. 

NBC wrote:

Senate passes sweeping GOP tax bill, but House to vote again.

Dec. 20, 2017


The Senate voted along party lines after midnight Tuesday to pass a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax bill that slashes tax rates for corporations, provides new breaks for private businesses and reorganizes the individual tax code.


The House approved the bill earlier Tuesday but will have to vote again on Wednesday. Democrats in the Senate persuaded the chamber's parliamentarian that several minor provisions in the House bill violated Senate rules, forcing the House into an embarrassing second vote.


[ . . . ]


With Vice President Mike Pence presiding over the chamber and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on hand, the Senate voted 51-48 in favor of the bill. The Senate's bill will go back to the House for a final vote, after which President Donald Trump could sign the package, dubbed the Tax Cuts And Jobs Act, into law before week's end.


[. . .]


The bill, the product of negotiations between Republicans in the House and Senate, achieves longtime Republican goals, including a permanent reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent  . . .


Many pass-through businesses also receive a more complicated 20 percent deduction, which became a subject of fierce debate after the final bill added a provision likely to benefit real estate companies like Trump's.


[ .  . ]


The bill also has significant implications for health care,
where it abolishes the Affordable Care Act's penalty for Americans who don't purchase insurance. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that change would lead 13 million more Americans to go without coverage after a decade and cause premiums on the individual market to rise 10 percent per year.

[ . . . ]


The ultra-rich fare well in the tax bill overall. An analysis by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center found that 83 percent of households in the top 0.1 percent would receive a tax break in 2018 with an average benefit of $193,380. [In comparison,] For the middle 20 percent of earners, the average tax cut would be $930. Over half the bill's total benefits would go to the top 10 percent of earners.


While Republicans are enthusiastic about their efforts, the legislation is intensely unpopular with the American public, with numerous surveys showing voters skeptical they'll gain from its temporary cuts to individual rates in comparison to shareholders, business owners and the wealthy.


An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday found 24 percent of respondents support the bill, versus 41 percent opposed. And 63 percent say it was designed primarily to benefit corporations and the rich, versus 22 percent who say it's aimed at all Americans equally, and just 7 percent who say it's for the middle class.


[ . . . ]


The Joint Committee on Taxation
, the official Congressional scorekeeper, estimates every income group would receive an average tax cut next year. But the JCT also found taxes would go up for lower incomes over time, in part because fewer eligible taxpayers would choose to receive health care subsidies through the ACA. By 2027, every income group making less than $75,000 would see a net tax increase.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center
, which did not factor in the health care changes, estimated that 80 percent of taxpayers would see a tax cut in 2018 and 4.8 percent see a tax increase, with many low-income households seeing little change either way. But the portion of taxpayers facing a tax increase would rise to 53.4 percent in 2027, when the bill's temporary tax breaks expire.
"Senate passes sweeping GOP tax bill, but House to vote again."  Link: 
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/republican-tax-bill-house-senate-trump-n831161

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174default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:11 pm

Poppy

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Administrator
I didn't attend, but it was inspiring to watch the various Women's Marches all across the nation today. 




New York Times wrote:
Women’s March 2018: Thousands of Protesters Take to the Streets

1/20/2018


Source:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/20/us/womens-march.html




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_________________

Photo Credit: narmdaddy

175default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:33 pm

Poppy

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Administrator
Administrator
The federal government shut down is expected to end today.   Most of the Democrats in the Senate agreed to a temporary 3-week funding bill (for funding until February 8).  The Senate must vote on final passage, which is expected to occur.  However, the House of Representatives still must approve the bill and Trump must sign it.

The Positives:  CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), which is a program that covers 9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women, will be provided funding with a 6-year extension.  If the Democrats and Republicans had been unable to arrive at an agreement about a temporary 3-week funding bill, then those millions of children were at risk of losing their funding for health insurance coverage.  Despite bi-partisan support for CHIP, the Republicans refused to renew CHIP in September 2017 (possibly because they wanted to use renewal of CHIP as leverage in budget negotiations, which is exactly what the Republicans did to put pressure on the Democrats).  Parents of various states were receiving notices from stage governments that funding would soon run out and that children would lose their health insurance coverage.  And of course another positive is the the federal government will be kept open at least until February 8.



The Negatives:
There was no agreement about the fate of approximately 800,000 Dreamers, who are about to lose their protected status to stay in the U.S., the country they were brought to by their parents  while the Dreamers were children.  The Democrats agreed to the temporary funding bill, in exchange for Mitch McConnell's public commitment to take up immigration, including the fate of Dreamers.   McConnell stated, "I hope and intend" to begin debating an immigration bill by February 8 (in exchange for the Democrats' agreement to the stopgap spending bill of 3 weeks length).    He stated, if no agreement is reached by then, that "it would be my intention to consider legislation" addressing immigration (which includes the fate of Dreamers and border security).  McConnell gave his word that he would allow a "free and open debate on immigration, that he would allow a vote on an immigration bill.  He pledged that the Senate immigration debate would have "a level playing field at the outset and an amendment process that is fair to all sides."

Although I understand why Democrats felt intense pressure to keep the government open, I feel incredibly sad that the Dreamers are left hanging with their lives at issue.   Will the Senate really pass a bill protecting the Dreamers?  Will the House pass such a bill?  A big question of course is whether or not Trump will make his mind up about where he stands in regard to Dreamers and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).  Remember, in October 2017 his administration chose to end the DACA renewal process.   And I doubt that the immigration bill will be a stand-alone bill on DACA and the Dreamers.  Trump has been wanting to take up other immigration issues.  His administration has wanted to end family reunification immigration which is currently the law (he calls it "chain immigration") and end the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program for immigrants from countries that have been shown to have low levels of immigration to the U.S. (which also is currently the law).   And there also is Trump's wall.


Sources: 
http://6abc.com/politics/senate-advances-bill-to-reopen-us-government/2976554/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/22/us/politics/government-shutdown.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region®️ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news


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176default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:00 am

Poppy

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I cannot express how deeply dismaying it is that Devin Nunes  and his fellow Republican House Intelligence Committee sycophants are willing to expose classified information and possibly harm national intelligence, all  in the name of undermining Mueller's investigation.


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177default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:39 pm

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Media is widely reporting that Representative Devin Nunes's efforts to have his Memo released may be interpreted as an attack on  Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  There is concern expressed among the media that Rosenstein is being targeted by Trump and his Republican congressional allies to pressure Rosenstein to leave, or worse, to fire Rosenstein.  Remember, Rosenstein is the person in the Justice department who has the power to fire Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel who is in charge of the Russian investigation.  So the release of the Devin Nunes's memo is a big deal that could have huge consequences to Robert Mueller's investigation.


Vox wrote:
The real reason the Nunes memo matters


Jan. 30, 2018

When House Republicans voted on Monday night to release a memo, compiled by Rep. Devin Nunes, alleging anti-Trump bias at the FBI, they raised a very serious question for American democracy.

The question is not whether there was a plot against Trump at the FBI, as the Nunes memo reportedly alleges. There is no evidence for such a claim, and it doesn’t pass the smell test. The real question is this: Will the FBI and Justice Department remain semi-independent agencies that check the president’s authority — or will they be brought under President Donald Trump’s direct control?

“Trump is shockingly overt about believing that the problem here is that the FBI is staffed by loyalists to the wrong person,” says Julian Sanchez, an expert on the intelligence community at the libertarian Cato Institute. “He does, in fact, seem to think that the job of the DOJ, and the FBI, and the rest of the intelligence community is to protect the president and follow his orders — including going after his political enemies . . .

[. . . ]

What’s really important about the memo is whom it blames for all of this: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The memo, per a New York Times account, says that Rosenstein is the one who signed off on this [so called] sham FISA application.

Rosenstein is, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recusal, the person supervising special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Trump can’t fire Mueller without Rosenstein’s say-so, and Rosenstein said in December that he sees no “good cause” to fire Mueller.

Rep. Nunes, the memo’s author, and the Republicans who have been most vocal in calling for its release, like Rep. Matt Gaetz, are also some of the Mueller investigation’s fiercest critics.

“The release of the memo, and the fabrication of a set of ideas around the memo, empowers Trump to go after the FBI,” Goodman says. “The ultimate goal is undermining the Mueller investigation. There doesn’t seem to be another reason for the president to be so obsessed with Rod Rosenstein and to be gunning for him.”

[. . . ]

How does this end?


There are two broad ways this war could go. In the first, the FBI is brought to heel. Rosenstein and the other senior FBI executives are fired and replaced with more Trump-friendly appointees. The Mueller investigation is quashed, and the bureau essentially serves more like an arm of the Trump administration than a quasi-independent agency.

The implications of this scenario for American democracy are pretty scary.

Source:  https://www.vox.com/world/2018/1/30/16950782/numes-memo-release




In the background of this, keep in mind that just today, news is breaking that in December, Trump asked Rod Rosenstein whether he was on Trump's "team."

CNN wrote:
Exclusive:  Trump asked Rosenstein if he was 'on my team'

January 31, 2018

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited the White House in December seeking President Donald Trump's help. The top Justice Department official in the Russia investigation wanted Trump's support in fighting off document demands from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.

. . . Trump wanted to know where the special counsel's Russia investigation was heading. And he wanted to know whether Rosenstein was "on my team."

The episode is the latest to come to light portraying a President whose inquiries sometimes cross a line that presidents traditionally have tried to avoid when dealing with the Justice Department, for which a measure of independence is key. The exchange could raise further questions about whether Trump was seeking to interfere in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia and obstruction of justice by the White House.

[. . .]

CNN has reported that Trump has been venting to his aides about Rosenstein in recent weeks and even raised the possibility of his removal.
Source:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/31/politics/donald-trump-rod-rosenstein-december-meeting/index.html





Note:  The Obsever is considered to be a conservative news site, but this writer, John Schindler, once worked as a National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer, and is highly knowledgable about intelligence issues.  I didn't include the part of the article near the end where the writer refers to  The Daily Beast article about the close communication of Julian Assange, of Wikileaks, with Sean Hannity of Fox news (note that Mike Pompeo, Trump's own CIA director, finds that WikiLeaks is a "hostile intelligence service" with an existing relationship with Russian intelligence, with said relationship including WikiLeaks working with Russian intelligence to release hacked DNC emails in summer 2016). 
Observer wrote:
Team Trump Just Blew its Cover


by John R. Schindler

January 30, 2018

. . . The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which conducts oversight of our Intelligence Community, was meeting in secret to vote on releasing a memo written by the staff of the HPSCI’s Republican chair, Rep. Devin Nunes.  This four-page memo has been the talk of the town for the last week, since Nunes claims it demonstrates malfeasance by the FBI in some sort of conspiracy to prevent the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016.

. . . The memo, as explained by Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the HPSCI, is merely “a hodgepodge of false statements and misleading representations” based on selective reading of intelligence documents.

. . . For this reason, the HPSCI’s Democratic minority crafted a classified rebuttal to the Nunes memo. To placate the right-wing firestorm created by Fox News, late yesterday afternoon, the [Republican majority of the] HPSCI voted to release the classified Nunes memo to the public this week. The vote was along partisan lines (there are 13 Republicans and eight Democrats on the committee) and, in a telling move, the [Republican-controlled] HPSCI voted to not release the [Democrats'] minority’s rebuttal to the Nunes memo. Above all, there has been no move to release the underlying intelligence behind the memo, thus rendering it useless as a substantive document.

. . . . Most seriously, Nunes has shattered decades of political consensus on his important committee. The HPSCI’s job of making sure our spy agencies are acting ethically and legally is supposed to be above partisan politics; this tradition has been broadly respected since the HPSCI and its Senate counterpart were founded in the 1970s. Now Nunes has trashed all that to protect Trump from the Russia investigation. It’s necessary to ask Devin Nunes and all the Republicans on his committee what was so important that it was worth making the HPSCI a nakedly partisan instrument, in a move that will have long-term consequences for our national security, all of them negative.

Source:  http://observer.com/2018/01/sanctions-nunes-memo-reveal-donald-trump-sean-hannity-ties-to-russia/?utm_campaign=social+flow&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social





Also note that The Fresno Bee, which serves Devin Nunes's own constituents in California's Central Valley, has harshly criticized Devin Nunes for Nunes's attack on the credibility of the FBI in their Russian investigation.
Fresno Bee wrote:
Rep. Devin Nunes, Trump's stooge, attacks FBI

By the Editorial Board

Janaury 25, 2018

What, pray tell, does Rep. Devin Nunes think he’s doing by waving around a secret memo attacking the FBI, the nation’s premier law enforcement agency?

He certainly isn’t representing his Central Valley constituents or Californians, who care much more about health care, jobs and, yes, protecting Dreamers than about the latest conspiracy theory.

Instead, he’s doing dirty work for House Republican leaders trying to protect President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation.

It’s no accident that this latest attempt to discredit the FBI and distract the public is happening at the same time special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe appears to be picking up steam – and focusing on possible obstruction of justice by the president.

[. . . ]

Nunes of Tulare is sheltered in a relatively safe Republican district, and may believe he will pay no political price for unfairly attacking law enforcement and protecting Trump. But his performance as chairman of the highly sensitive House Intelligence Committee has been nothing short of embarrassing.

Instead of taking Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election seriously and leading an impartial and bipartisan inquiry, Nunes has colluded with the White House. . .

[. . .]

Now, he’s being celebrated in Trumpworld with the four-page memo that accuses the FBI of political bias and misdeeds. Drafted by Nunes staffers, it apparently summarizes classified material and alleges abuse of the surveillance process by the FBI and Justice Department to target the Trump campaign. Conservative media and some Republicans in Congress are calling for it to be released publicly and using it to call for Mueller’s investigation to be shut down.

There are reasons to be very skeptical of this memo. . . Democrats who have seen it, including Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank, say it’s full of inaccuracies and innuendo. And the social media campaign #ReleaseTheMemo may be promoted by Russian-linked bots, just as during the 2016 campaign.

[. . . ]

. . . The Justice Department wrote to him, warning that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release the memo without any review for possible risk to national security or ongoing investigations.

[. . . ]


We also can’t forget that Republicans defended the FBI when Democrats criticized Comey last year for reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails just before the election.

But now we’re supposed to believe some Republicans that there’s some kind of anti-Trump “secret society” within the FBI? It’s ridiculous.

Everyone – Republicans, Democrats, advocacy groups on all sides and the media – should do our democracy a favor: Stop with the hyperventilating and let Mueller finish his investigation and get to the truth.
Source:  https://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/editorials/article196633904.html




Folks, this is highly alarming, scary stuff! 

What happens when the most powerful man in the U.S., the President of our country, uses his influence, backed up by his Republican allies in the House of Representatives, to remove Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, when Rosenstein is the person in the Justice Department who has the power to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller? 

If Rod Rosenstein is fired, or pressured to leave, because of bogus allegations by Devin Nunes and Nunes's Republican allies, that Rosenstein acted improperly in the Russian investigation, will a more Trump-friendly Deputy Attorney General be chosen to replace Rod Rosenstein?  If so, would this new Deputy Attorney General--who has the power to fire Robert Mueller--try to influence Mueller's Russian investigation?   Would he fire Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel leading the Russian investigation?  Will the Republicans in the House and the Senate allow this to happen? 



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178default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:36 am

Poppy

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Jimmy Kimmel continues to impress me with his ability to break down and explain in easily understandable terms, vital issues.   And Guillermo gives the most succinct analysis of the situation created by Trump, Devin Nunes, and the Republicans in Congress about this idiotic memo.    :amused  Let's hope with all our hearts that Trump does not proceed to what many historians, constitutional legal experts, and law enforcement characterize to be a constitutional crisis by firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and by installing as Deputy Attorney General someone who will do as Trump pleases in terms of curtailing or ending Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian investigation. 


Jimmy Kimmel Live
Published on Feb. 1, 2018



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179default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:09 pm

Poppy

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The New York Times has reported what we’ve long suspected: Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Mueller, and has already tried to do so. His attorney prevented the firing, but that doesn’t mean that the independent investigation is safe.    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/us/politics/trump-mueller-special-counsel-russia.html

Most of us are aware that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes has written a memo with misleading talking points.  Nunes’s memo attacks the FBI and the Justice Department as being biased against Trump in their investigation of Russian interference.  Remember Nunes used to be a part of Trump’s campaign team.  He is a biased party.  (Note that Nunes gave a very vague answer when he was asked[size=13] if he’s coordinating with the White House on the issue of Nunes’s memo.  Source:  https://www.thedailybeast.com/devin-nunes-wont-say-if-he-worked-with-white-house-on-anti-fbi-memo  )

It is important to note that Nunes’s memo targets Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.   Remember, Rosenstein is the person in the Justice department who has the power to fire Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel who is in charge of the Russian investigation, which involves investigating the Trump campaign team.  So the release of Devin Nunes's memo is a big deal that could be used as the  justification for Trump to fire Rosenstein, which would have huge consequences to Robert Mueller's investigation.   See  https://www.vox.com/world/2018/1/30/16950782/numes-memo-release
[/size]

Keep in mind as the backdrop of all this controversy surrounding Nunes's memo, is that Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign team is racing along, with Mueller wanting to interview Trump himself.  Trump’s  lawyers oppose such an interview because they openly have said they are afraid Trump would lie.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/us/politics/trump-lawyers-special-counsel-interview.html

Trump had indicated after the State of the Union address that he was going to release Nune’s memo.   Source:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/31/politics/donald-trump-devin-nunes-memo/index.html  Note that Trump had not at that point in time read the Nunes memo, so he indicated he would release to the public a memo that contained classified information, even though he had not read that classified document.


The FBI opposed the release of Nunes's memo, citing  concerns about the memo's accuracy.   Trump released the memo anyway.  


Then the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sought to release a response memo, that would point out the inaccuracies and omissions in the Nunes memo.  The Democrats' position is that Nunes's allegations (that the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign team was biased) are false.  At some point, the House Intelligence Committee (even with a Republican majority) voted unanimously to release the Democrats' memo.    The memo was then sent to the President.  Yesterday, Trump refused to release the Democrats' memo
.

CNN wrote:
Donald Trump's incredible hypocrisy on the Democratic memo

By Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor at Large

February 10, 2018

Trump okayed the release of the Nunes memo last week. Late Friday, he vetoed the release of the Democratic memo, sending it back to the Intelligence Committee for revisions.

The hypocrisy and cynicism in those twin decisions is roughly the size of Mount Everest. . .

Trump's own FBI and Justice Department urged the President not to release the Nunes memo.

"With regard to the House Intelligence Committee's memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it," read a statement from the FBI. "As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy."

"Grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy."

Trump released the memo anyway.

But after promising Friday morning that the Democratic memo would be released "soon," Trump hung his decision not to release it on concerns voiced by -- wait for it -- the FBI and Justice Department!!!

It's like a parody.

[. . . ]

So. The recommendation of the FBI and the Justice Department was ignored a week ago but relied upon this week. What changed???

. . . What changed was that one memo [Devin Nunes's] affirmed what Trump already believed. The other [the Democrats'] offered a counter-narrative. One got released. The other didn't.

Remember that Trump was overheard telling Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, at the State of the Union that the Nunes memo would be released -- even as the White House counsel and the national security team were still reviewing it. His mind was made up to release the Nunes memo no matter what the FBI and Justice Department -- or anyone else -- said. Because he believed it. Because it was good for him politically.

To then hide behind the same FBI and Justice Department you ignored a week ago in order to slow -- or stop -- the release of a memo that tells a story Trump doesn't believe or like is the height of hypocrisy.

It is also a step further down the road of politicizing and weaponizing intelligence information. The very fact that Nunes' memo was written -- much less released -- is hugely unprecedented. To then keep a competing memo from being released by citing the very people whose recommendation you ignored a week before is, even for this administration, stunning. And appalling.
Source:   https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/10/politics/donald-trump-democratic-memo/index.html





Folks. this is very scary, very alarming. 

What is even more alarming is that in the background of all this is the news yesterday (Friday) that Rachel Brand, the third in line in the Dept. of Justice (she was next after Rod Rosenstein) has decided to retire.  Wow.  So if Rod Rosenstein is forced out, or if he is fired by Trump, then would Trump has the authority to name anyone he wants to replace Brand? 


Vox wrote:
Rachel Brand will resign from the DOJ. That could be bad news for Mueller.

Feb. 9, 2018

Rachel Brand, the No. 3 official at the Department of Justice, is resigning after just nine months on the job — a decision with big ramifications for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations.

[. . . ]

But if Trump were to fire Rosenstein, or if he were to recuse himself from the investigation or quit outright, the responsibility for overseeing the probe would go to the next in line: Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.

Which means that whoever Trump picks to replace Brand could potentially end up in charge of the Mueller investigation. Technically, the next in line is Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who is now serving in Brand’s role in an acting capacity. But legal experts told me that Trump has the authority to name anyone he wants to replace Brand.

And here’s the scary thing: That person might follow Trump’s order to dismiss the special counsel.

Source:  https://www.vox.com/2018/2/9/16997508/rachel-brand-resigns-doj-trump-mueller







**     **     **


Even if you are Republican, please ask yourself whether or not you can--in good conscience-- allow this interference with the independent investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  Our democracy has the right to be free from corrupt influences of a foreign power, both in our elections, as well as in the running of our government.  I asked myself this, and I honestly believe if the shoe was on the other foot, if the President of the United States was a Democrat, who was working with Democratic members of Congress to prevent an independent investigation of a Special Counsel-- I would not be silent.  I would insist that ALL members of Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) do what they can to preserve the independence of our government, by allowing the Special Counsel's investigation to be completed without interference. 

I am asking any readers that I have to please do the following:



Every week, STARTING NEXT WEEK:  Please Call your U.S. House of Representative AND U.S. Senators to do what they can to ensure that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is allowed to complete his investigation without interference from the White House.  We must guard against governmental corruption, even if such corruption occurs in the Executive branch, in our White House.



Currently, the U.S. Senate has two bills to protect Robert Mueller from being fired:  S. 1735 by Senators Graham and Booker, and S. 1741 by Senators Coons and Tillis.

Sources: 
S. 1735: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1735/text
S. 1741: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1741/text


Likewise, U.S. House of Representative John Conyers has a bill to do the same, H.R. 3771.

Source:  H.R. 3771:  https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3771/text



Every week, STARTING NEXT WEEK, please call your U.S. Representative AND U.S. Senator to advocate that Robert Mueller must be able to complete his independent investigation without interference.  Even if you call just ONCE A WEEK, this will make a huge difference in protecting Robert Mueller. 




SAMPLE CALL SCRIPT

Caller: Hi! I’m a constituent from [part of state] I’m calling to urge [Name of Senator or Representative] to do everything that can be done to prevent Trump from firing Special Counsel Mueller or otherwise impeding the investigation, such as by firing Rod Rosenstein.

I’m concerned he may do that, launching a constitutional crisis. Will [Name of Senator or Representative] speak out and tell the President that firing Mueller would be a red line he must not cross?


Staffer: Thank you for your call. [Name of your Member of Congress] is monitoring the various investigations closely and is letting them run their course.

Caller: That’s good, but it’s really important for Congress to assert its power now to prevent Trump from firing Mueller.

I’d like to see [Name of Member of Congress] issue a clear statement on this, and co-sponsor H.R. 3771, as well as S. 1735 or S. 1741 to show [his/her] support for protecting Mueller and the investigation.

Staffer: We’ll take a look at that legislation.

Caller: Great, I’ll be following to see if [name of Member of Congress] co-sponsors and speaks out on this.




To find out how to contact your Senators, please go here:    https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm




You can find your House of Representative’s number  by calling the Capitol's switchboard at 202-224-3121.   You also may find your House of Representative's phone number by going here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/


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180default Re: General News You Want to Talk About on Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:39 am

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The intelligence officials of the United States consistently have stated that Russia interfered with the U.S. Presidential election of 2016.   But now, we are finding out that Russia actually penetrated the voter systems in the U.S.  This is becoming increasingly alarming.  Fortunately, there is no evidence that voter registration rolls of states have been altered, but is this a possibility in the future?   Can and will Russia delete certain persons on states' registration rolls if those persons are of one particular party, thus preventing such persons from voting?  Thinking about Russia possibly controlling the outcome of elections by tampering with voter registration rolls is a terrifying nightmare.


NBC wrote:
Russians penetrated U.S. voter systems, top U.S. official says

Feb. 8, 2018

The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said,  . . .  "We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated."

Jeh Johnson, who was DHS secretary during the Russian intrusions, said, "2016 was a wake-up call and now it's incumbent upon states and the Feds to do something about it before our democracy is attacked again."

"We were able to determine that the scanning and probing of voter registration databases was coming from the Russian government."

[. . . ]

There is no evidence that any of the registration rolls were altered in any fashion, according to U.S. officials.

In a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, 79 percent of the respondents said they were somewhat or very concerned that the country's voting system might be vulnerable to computer hackers.

[. . . ]

In 2016, the Illinois Board of Elections acknowledged that voter data had been breached. Hackers were inside the system for several weeks and were downloading data when they were caught, though they did not alter any files.

Many of the states complained the federal government did not provide specific threat details, saying that information was classified and state officials did not have proper clearances. Manfra told us those clearances are now being processed
Source:  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/russians-penetrated-u-s-voter-systems-says-top-u-s-n845721?cid=eml_nbn_20180207









And there's more.  Today, the directors of ALL six U.S. intelligence agencies were united in sending a strong message that Russia already is working on disrupting our country's elections in 2018 (the midterm elections).  This was a dramatic sight to see and hear all the heads of the six U.S. intelligence agencies (National Intelligence, CIA, FBI, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and national Geospatial Intelligence Agency) sitting in one united front at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, over and over agreeing about the alarming danger of Russia continuing its interference with our elections this year.




CNN wrote:
US intel chiefs unanimous that Russia is targeting 2018 elections

February 13, 2018

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Tuesday "there should be no doubt" that Russia sees the 2018 US elections as a target.

Coats and the other top national security officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee that they still view Moscow as a threat to the 2018 elections, a stance that appears at odds with President Donald Trump's repeated dismissals of Russian election meddling.

"We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence, to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States," Coats said at a hearing on worldwide threats. "There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations."

. . . But Russia's interference into US and other elections loomed large amid the committee's investigation into Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russian officials.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the committee's top Democrat, warned that the US was not prepared to handle the Russian threat to US elections heading into the midterms.

[. . . ]

Warner questioned Coats and the other officials testifying — CIA Director Mike Pompeo, FBI Director Chris Wray, NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo — about how the government was addressing the threat to both the US election systems and through social media. He asked all six of the US officials testifying to reaffirm the intelligence community's findings last year that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and that the Kremlin will continue to intervene in future elections. All said yes.

Democrats pointed to that unanimous assessment to criticize Trump for maintaining a contrasting view to his own intelligence community.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, urged the intelligence chiefs to persuade the President to accept their findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

"My problem is, I talk to people in Maine who say the whole thing is a witch hunt and a hoax 'because the President told me,'" King said. "There's no doubt, as you all have testified today, we cannot confront this threat, which is a serious one, with a whole of government response when the leader of the government continues to that deny it exists."

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, asked whether the efforts to counter Russia's election activities in 2018 had been directed by Trump.

"Not as specifically directed by the President," Wray responded.

Pompeo told the committee that the CIA had already "seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle here."

[. . . ]

Warner also questioned the government's response to the Russian social media influence efforts. Warner has been critical of the response of companies like Facebook and Twitter to the Russian activity on their social networks.

[. . . ]


Another issue related to Russia's election interference is the US voting systems themselves. The Department of Homeland Security has said there were Russian efforts to try to hack into the voting systems in 21 states, and several lawmakers have raised concerns states and localities are unprepared for the 2018 election cycle.

"Voting begins in March, that's next month," said Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican. "If we're going to have any impact on securing that voting system itself, it would seem to me, we need to be acting quickly."

Source:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/13/politics/intelligence-chiefs-russia-2018-elections-target/index.html







Given the united message of the directors of all  six U.S. intelligence agencies about Russia's interference with our 2016 presidential election, it is simply bizarre that Trump continues to send his message that the Russia investigation is simply sour grapes of the Democrats.  It's incomprehensible that the President of the U.S. is ignoring the conclusion made by the U.S. intelligence community.  Source:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/13/politics/trump-unconvinced-russia-meddled-election/index.html


Last year, Congress worked together to pass legislation authorizing Trump to sanction Russia.  Given that all of our American intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russia without a doubt interfered with our 2016 presidential election, why is Trump refusing to impose any sanctions against Russia?  Source:  https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/12/democratic-senators-pressure-trump-on-russia-sanctions-406911




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